It's the time of the year when the days get shorter, retailers stay open longer, big games are released and there seems to be a holiday every other week. Defunct Games wants to ring in this festive season with a look at the most memorable video game themes of all time. For 34 days straight, Cyril Lachel and Kevin Bailey will share their thoughts on themes from the last thirty years. Join us every day between November 22 and December 25 for The 34 Game Themes of Christmas!
Before there was Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time or Wave Race, there was Cruis'n USA. Announced alongside Killer Instincts as the first games for what would become the Nintendo 64, Cruis'n USA was a Midway-produced racing game from the mind of Eugene Jarvis (Defender, Robotron: 2084). This arcade game was created to test Nintendo's hardware and get people excited about the future of 64-bit technology. The good news is that the hardware worked and Cruis'n USA was playable in arcades around the world. Unfortunately, it wasn't a game worth getting excited about. Perhaps this song has something to do with it.
With the invent of optical media and large cartridges, developers were suddenly able to load their games with high quality music featuring real musical equipment. Before we knew it, the industry was inundated with big hair and guitar solos. This Cruis'n USA theme demonstrates that it is possible to fit a funky bass line and butt rock singing into a crappy racing game. Musically, this isn't the train wreck my score suggests. Sure it's a little goofy and the drummer isn't given much to work with, that's keeping in spirit with this cheesy arcade racer. Where it loses me is in the vocals. I'm impressed that you can play the drums and keyboards, but why didn't anybody think to write some lyrics? Moaning "yeah" and "whoa" may work if you're Lady Gaga, but not when you're trying to get me to spend a dollar to play a mediocre driving game!
This theme song has one very big problem: A vocalist with absolutely nothing to say. It's as if they brought him into the studio to sing out the title, and then he just kept making noise. Even worse, they forgot to cut that noise! This would have been a perfectly inoffensive, funky theme if not for this guy. Is there a reason he had to say 'whoa' so many times? Perhaps someone just thought the exceedingly brief funk loop needed help dragging out for so long. The actual music behind the nuisance is just one short, cheesy riff repeating over and over. It's not bad, but it's not memorable. The irritating singer manages to make the theme memorable, but certainly not in a good way. If his part had ended after the short build up beginning the song, this would have been passable.
Forget the sands of the Middle East, this Genesis shooter takes us deep into the heart of the jungle. It's going to be a bumpy flight.